For The Morning Star
LAS VEGAS – If money at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is a building block, Clay Elliott now has something from which to create.
The Nanton, Alta. saddle bronc rider, formerly of Vernon, spurred Bar T Rodeo’s Son of Sadie for 86.5 points Monday night to finish in a tie for third place in the fifth go-round. He earned $13,327 and pushed his season earnings to $103,375 in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
“I was getting a little impatient,” said Elliott, who was raised in Vernon, British Columbia. “I’m just trying to be patient. It didn’t start like I had planned, and it took me a minute to feel right. Now I do.”
Winning does that to a competitor like Elliott, who won the 2015 college champion while attending Oklahoma Panhandle State University. Last month he earned more than $40,000 at the Canadian Finals Rodeo, which helped him win the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association’s championship.
Now he has the momentum he needs to finish off the final five nights of ProRodeo’s grand finale.
“You get that feeling of what it’s like to win,” he said. “It’s a damn good feeling.”
Elliott bucked off his horses in the first and fourth rounds and finished out of the money in Rounds 2 and 3, so he was searching for that positive change. He has fallen from eighth to 14th in the world standings, but he realizes there’s still a lot of money on the table in Las Vegas.
“I’ve been talking to Winston Bruce,” he said of the fellow Canadian and ProRodeo Hall of Fame cowboy who won the saddle bronc riding world title in 1961. “He’s got a very simple concept on everything. It was a refreshing outlook to it. This rodeo is only at the halfway point, and I’ve got some money won already.
“You just go after every horse and put on the best spur rides you can on every horse I get on. It’s pretty simple, so I try to keep things basic.”
He did that Monday on Son of Sadie. He knew he’d have to make a near perfect ride if he were to reach the pay window. With the classic spur stroke from the front of the horse’s shoulders to the back of his saddle, he made everything work the way it needed to.
“I just wanted to get that feeling of winning,” Elliott said. “Now that I’ve got that, I just want to keep it. It’s not about the mechanics of bronc riding. It’s just the feeling that you get. In order to keep that rolling, I’ve just got to keep that feeling.”
That comes with a solid mental approach to the game. Athletically and technically, the Canadian cowboy won’t change a thing. When the first four rounds didn’t go his way, he found a way to maintain a good attitude.
“I’ve tried not to bring those rides on to the next horse,” he said. “It’s a little bit tricky, but I finally did that.
“I just want to spur everything like I did (Monday) night.”
If it works one time, surely it can again, and Elliott has five more nights to make it happen.